The Budget and Mid-Bedfordshire
Posted Monday, 31 March 2014 at 11:15
There has been so much written in response to the Budget that I was going to confine my supportive remarks to the shorter medium of twitter. Needless to say, I am incredibly happy that from April 2015 in Mid-Bedfordshire 43,063 people will receive a significant tax cut while 441 people will be taken out of income tax altogether.
But I am perhaps most pleased about the changes to pension rules, which will reward and trust older people who have saved throughout their working lives. It is an extension of the Conservative principle that people are better placed to decide how to spend their own money than the government. In my opinion there is no such thing as a government that spends our money well.
Annuities will remain a staple of retirement provision for many, but not necessarily for everyone and there is no reason that people should be mandated to buy one. It was very sad, therefore, to see the few opponents of the reforms actually saying that ‘people cannot be trusted to spend their own money’.
This reminded me of a similar debate we had earlier in the parliament when a colleague introduced a Private Members Bill that would provide benefit payments on special cards that could not be used to buy alcohol, cigarettes, drugs or gambling.
I felt then, as now, that this would be an outrageous restriction on the freedom of people who, just because they may be unemployed, are not automatically declared irresponsible and worthy of condescension by government.
I think all political parties should try to demonstrate consistency with their principles. You cannot declare that benefit recipients are being patronised when they are told how to spend their money but support the view that retirees cannot be trusted with their own savings.
Politicians of any party either believe that government telling people how to spend their money is patronising, inefficient and unnecessary or they don’t. They cannot change their position on a whim when different groups are affected.
The amounts are different but the principle is the same, we must trust people with their own money to provide for themselves in retirement according to personal wishes and circumstances.
I have been touched to weekend to speak to a widowed constituent with a terminal illness who believes she may have two years at the most to live. She was thrilled at the news that she will be able to access her pension fund and provide herself with some short term comfort and a few treats, other than the measly £74 per month annuity her pension pot will provide. She wants to visit her father’s grave in Normandy and has a genuine bucket list that, prior to this budget, would not have been achievable. And for that I am both grateful and proud.
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
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